LA Galaxy Chopped Down to Size in 5-2 Defeat
While possession and shots were pretty even in the first half, the opportunities for the Galaxy were better. Unfortunately, it only yielded one goal and two shots that hit the woodwork. Thus, instead of going into halftime up 3-0, they only had a 1-0 lead.
In the second half, it seemed as if the pitch was tilted toward the Portland attack. Don't know if it was greater urgency on the Portland Timber side or the Galaxy deciding to play defensive to hold the 1-0 lead. In any case, Portland was buzzing around the net constantly and eventually they broke through with the equalizer. And shortly after, the go ahead PK was followed by a third unanswered goal.
Keane brought some excitement to the Galaxy supporters making it 3-2 but then LA gave up a howler a minute later and the fans were heading out the doors.
With one game left in the regular season and teams jockeying for seeding in the playoffs, the Galaxy have not been playing well raising questions about their prospects in the playoffs.
How is it possible that the team that was running roughshod over opponents in the Summer of high expectations get to this low point in the Fall of disappointment?
A few observations:
Dos Santos has picked up some injuries and I do wonder if he was really 100 percent on Sunday. He didn't have the impact on the game one would have expected. The reality is Dos Santos at 80% is going to be better than the options Coach Arena can call up from the bench. But without him at 100%, the Galaxy attack is going to have problems.
Is Zardes also short of 100%? He has had a lot more international duties this year and one has to wonder if he is getting worn down. Also, is the wide-midfield really his best position on the field? Over at LAG Confidential, they speculate why Zardes is playing wide midfield instead of up front.
Lletget was tearing up opponents a couple of months ago but hasn't scored since. As the season wears players down, is he also now a half-a-step slower and thus no longer able to blast past defenders like he was during his hot start?
Gerrard had a great free kick that hit the post, in the first half. He also had some nice passes but in the second half some of them were very errant. Again, you have to wonder if those 35 year old legs have too many miles on them. MLS isn't EPL but it is still a grind. Currently, Gerrard has 2 goals and 3 assists. Somehow, I think the Galaxy brain trust was expecting more. Keane is clearly the number one option in goal scoring but I think Coach Arena and company were anticipating a little more goal scoring and certainly more assists from Gerrard.
One might think, the long season wears out other teams also. However, I think the season long grind will impact finesse teams more. Keane and Dos Santos are wily forwards rather than guys who will clobber the defenders out of the way. During the summer when they were rampaging over opponents, they did it with speed and passing capitalizing on their mobility and skill in the open field. In some matches I've seen, it looks like the opponents are trying to be more physical to throw off the Galaxy players from their game. Thus, the combination of the weariness of a long season and more physical approach of opponents seem to have "closed the gap" between the wide open high powered offense we saw in the summer and the muddle we see now from the Galaxy.
For the Galaxy to make a serious run in the playoffs, they will need to somehow find that faster gear again or find some tactics to allow them to thrive in slower more physical matches. Am not really sure they have the personnel to make a go of the latter style of play.
UPDATE: Was listening to the MLS Extra Time Radio podcast of 10/22/15 and their analysts think the LA Galaxy problem is that Dos Santos and Keane are too similar in attack style so defenders can slow them down. Additionally, they thought all three DPs (Dos Santos, Keane, Gerrard) don't play enough defense. Am not entirely convinced that is true since many of the matches during this muddled period for LA have been low scoring affairs suggesting the defense isn't Swiss Cheese. One might make the case for the Portland blow out but part of that was also having to chase the game. The "Decision Day" match with Sporting KC will be an indicator of where the club is at. Taking a road win there means the Portland game was an anomaly. On the other hand, another blow out loss is definite signs of trouble.